– After the passing of Notorious B.I.G, Bad Boy Records had big shoes to fill. However, the release of Harlem World back in 1997 showed that Mase was the right man for the job.

Mase originally rose to fame as a member of the Harlem hip-hop group, Children of the Corn alongside Cam’ron and Big L. However, following the death of 2 group members, including its founder, Big L, Mase signed to Bad Boy Entertainment. Soon after, Mase received widespread attention from his appearance on Notorious B.I.G’s hit single,“Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” and the rest was history. Mase soon became Puff Daddy’s new protégé as he began to promote Mase as Bad Boy’s main attraction.

On October 28, 1997, Harlem World was released and was an immediate success. The project was #1 on the Billboard Pop and R&B LP charts while also selling 270,000 copies in the U.S during its first week. Harlem World also included quite a few hits such as “Feel So Good” (U.S. #5), “What You Want” (U.S. #6), and “Lookin’ at Me” (U.S. #8).

While it’s clear to every hip-hop fan that Notorious B.I.G was an irreplaceable talent, it is also easy to understand how Mase became Bad Boy’s next leading artist. His smooth and laid back delivery joined with his clever and eloquent lyricism was reminiscent of B.I.G himself – not to mention, Mase’s flow matched perfectly with the R&B-esque production style of Puff Daddy and his production team, The Hitmen. Besides Puff, other Hitmen Producers who worked on Harlem World included Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, Carl “Chucky” Thompson, Nashiem Myrick, Carlos “6 July” Broady, and Stevie J. Dame Grease, Jermaine Dupri, and the then unknown Neptunes also contributed to the album’s production.

If Mase’s own lyrical ability and the all-star production lineup wasn’t enough to make Harlem World an instant classic, the list of featuring artists definitely did the trick. That list includes Jay Z, Monifah, DMX, The Lox, Kelis, 112, Total, Black Rob, Lil Kim, Busta Rhymes, Kelly Price, and even 8Ball & MJG — just to name a few.

Although Mase’s initial exit from hip-hop was unexpected and his following releases became more sporadic, he has still managed to put his own stamp on the game. Mase is among the few rappers who have been able to collaborate with as many other legendary artists as he has. As a hip-hop fan, there’s simply no way to escape Mase’s entire catalogue of music despite how small it may be. Then again, why would you ever want to?

Check out the full album and “Feel So Good” music video above!

Written by DJ Robinson

– Back in 1999, one of the founding members of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, released his final solo project titled, Nigga Please.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Final Official Album, ‘Nigga Please’

By ’99, Ol’ Dirty Bastard had already made a name for himself in a way that only he could. Not only did his rugged, half-sung, free associative rhyme scheme make him one of a kind, but he had also become quite the public personality. He had been saving children’s lives, triggering welfare reform, and preceding Kanye West with his classic interruption at the 1998 Grammy Awards up until that point. So, when ODB released his second solo album, Nigga Please, this distinct character had accrued a massive following that he would be aiming to please yet again.

The album opens up in dramatic fashion with “Recognize” as comedian Chris Rock, Pharrell Williams, and ODB himself tenaciously let you know that you need to recognize who Ol’ Dirty Bastard is. He then goes on to deliver gems like “I Can’t Wait”, “You Don’t Want to Fuck with Me”, and his rendition of Rick James’ “Cold Blooded”. Also featured on the album was ODB’s smash hit “Got Your Money” featuring Kelis who was making her debut appearance. The track reached #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a large international success.

Nigga Please was also heavily supported by masterful production from legends like The Neptunes, Irv Gotti, and of course, RZA. The all-star team of producers whipped up an incredible assortment of sounds that included samples and inspiration from Slick Rick, Rick James, Labelle, and even the theme song from American TV Drama, T.J. Hooker.

While Nigga Please wasn’t met with the same critical praise as ODB’s first solo album, Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, it still did considerably well commercially. With the added fact that ODB was able to write and record the album in between jail sentences, it becomes that much more evident of the talent that he possessed.

R.I.P. Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Written by DJ Robinson